MRC MuSiXmas Challenge: Full results

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By snout

Ascended (15184)

snout's picture

28-12-2004, 17:06

Tanks for inviting me as a jury. To tell the truth I didn't expected such many quality entries for this music challenge since I've never been able to find more than a handful of active MSX musicians on the web. However, my underestimation was completely reversed. MuSiXmas was an exciting state-of-the-arts exhibition rather than a small Christmas music competition!

What's the most unexpected was technical contributions from Vincent van Dam behind the PSG entries. He brought ProTracker 3 music to the MSX scene. The PT3 is one of the most powerful PSG trackers running on the ZX Spectrum, so PT3 entries are not actually MSX based. But Dioniso Hernandez's PSG hardcore more or less amazed some MSX sceners. I think PT3 modules can crank up the sleeping MSX-PSG scene, and this challenge might be the beginning. Vincent also widened the range of entries by submitting an executable sample tune.

Another technical surprise came from DRM. His elaborate study against SCC instruments is simply great. I've never heard such a realistic piano WITHOUT SAMPLES. I have to say he opened an unexplored region - beyond Konami - for SCC freaks.

Of course I don't forget nifty traditional works. Frederik Boelens's OPL4 covers are two of the most relaxy contributions among them. Wiz's obsessiveness with details, dedicated to good old Konami style, is also noteworthy even though there're a few notes out of chords. Meits's approach on a X-File cover is the Idea Prize.

A quite BASIC submission from Bifi was impressive in another sense, at least in the happy Christmas mood. Such an early 80s concept could remind you of happy childhood when 8-bit platforms were truely state-of-the-art.

In a way, nostalgia might be an important factor for such a 8-bit music competition focusing on Christmas season, but just tickling it is not enough to be a winner. I feel Wolf_ deeply understands how to deal with nostalgic essence on advanced music device. He daringly imported SCC instruments to the OPL4, but didn't wind it up only as a service for a chip music freak (like me). He established well-considered arrangement featuring dense Konami flavor which really fits to SCC sound. This is one of the best Xmas chiptune I've ever heard!

Here are the results to the challenge:

hally

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By snout

Ascended (15184)

snout's picture

29-12-2004, 00:22

so, MRC readers... what's your top 11? And why? Smile

By Meits

Scribe (6446)

Meits's picture

29-12-2004, 11:00

First of all, the expectable congrats to wolf_ Wink

I was very surprised by the fact that there were such quality tunes. Also the fact that I didn't expect so many people to participate and be really good as well. Good job.

My top 11 would be:

01. wolf - silicon christmas
02. wiz - white christmas
03. dionisi hernadez - navodad
04. meits - the xmas files
05. frederik boelens - iceworld
06. frederik boelens - sd-xmas
07. bifi - oldschool msxmas
08. vincent van dam - kvk-xmas
09. joram van hartingsveldt - jingle things
10. drmsx - merry christmas mr lawrence
11. ccfg - joulubugi

Why.

Didn't find much of christmas in wolf_'s tune. Probably cuz I don't know a lot of x-mas tunes or he mixed it away very well. The guy knows how to handle stuff. Making the samples just a few bytes large and keep the envelopes perfect shows a lot of skill. I envy his skill.

I never heard of Wiz, but he blew me away with his bright scc tune. Just like wolf_'s tune it sounded like an scc should sound, though wiz used a real scc. He's a very close 2nd place for me, and if my mood was slightly different, they'd swap places easily.

The novadad tune was little weird. For the sound I didn't really like it cuz I'm spoiled with nice bright tunes in this age. Though, this man drew a sound from the PSG which was unknown to me for all those 18 years of knowing MSX music. Some parts really sounded un-PSG, more like FM-PAC. He kept the composition very full and almost made me forget it's just 3 channels of squarewaves and one channel of noise.

Hmmm... I like my own song, otherwise I wouldn't submit it. It turned out to be a big disappointment afterall. The song was made using blueMSX 2.1 to be able to use more sampleram than my genuine moonsound has. I was shocked to hear the song being so crippled by destroyed envelopes on a real msx. Won't happen again.

Both of Frederik Boelens' tunes were almost equally of appreciation for me, though I liked iceworld most. It gave me the oldschool happy moonsound tunefeeling. Even a little more oldschool than the moonsound itself actually is. For this tune goes as well, that my mood slightly differed from the situation now, I'd let hem blow me away from the 4th place I gave myself (haha, bad luck chao5 Wink ).

I liked the SD-snatcher x-mas tune by the man's hand a lot as well. I think I even remember the original sd-snatcher tune which was base to this song. I always like own work over covers and since I don't hear anything I'd ever heard in Iceworld, Iceworld won the match. Great tune for sure.

Bifi's tune was very nice and I didn't expect him to make a complete mml tune. It was sad that only his mp3 was completely flawless afterall. Once again showing the differences between MSX a and MSX b. I know how hard it is to make mml tunes so that's why I leave it behind like a plague. I almost went drunk, overlooking Beefmeister's listing. He's a monk Tongue

Vincent's psg tune did have something, the samples. Though he couldn't match novadad. It's little pity that the rhythm sample doesn't continue on all places, leaving a gap in the song. It gave me the feeling the song wasn't completed yet.

jinglethings. Completely flawless tune, though very standard. It didn't appeal to me a lot. It's good, nothing more, nothing less. It reminded me a bit of the first explorations of MSX composers on the moonsound in 1996, but it turned out the moonsound can do more than that.

I didn't really like merry christmas mr lawrence. One reasong could be that I wasn't able to let it play on a real MSX, though just in a replayer on my pc. I thought the tune is too empty. Probably the original is like that as well, I don't know. But I found it a bit boring anyways.

Don't really know what to say of joulubugi. I guess other tunes were just better.

Sidenote:
Moonsound: can do almost everything you want on an MSX. Sometimes it makes a simple tune sound great, just because of its sound (my tune was very simple, though the samples I grabbed from a synth did the trick).

SCC: Tried it just once, using (wasn't it?) SCC-Musix. Don't really remember the name anyhow, but it turned out to be a pain in the butt to let something descent drop out the speakers, so I gave up. SCC tunes get compared to Konami, if you want it or not. This challenge shows that composers listen to Konami as well.

PSG: If you want a PSG tune to be special, you need talent. dionisi hernadez whows he has it. If he'd be the treshold of standard, all others (I heard so far) would fail.

I've been out of the MSX scene for quite some years and back a bit now. I found out there are quite some unknown musicfileformats to me. Don't really know what that's good for, but that might be just me.

€ 0,02

By snout

Ascended (15184)

snout's picture

29-12-2004, 11:08

Very nice review-ing, Meits. About the MGS format, which is very popular in Japan:

http://www.msx.org/newspost916.html
http://www.gigamixonline.com/mgsdrv/

By BiFi

Enlighted (4348)

BiFi's picture

29-12-2004, 12:33

I wonder what snout's list would look like and why?

By snout

Ascended (15184)

snout's picture

29-12-2004, 12:41

My top 11 would be

01. wiz - white christmas
02. wolf - silicon christmas
03. drmsx - merry christmas mr lawrence
04. meits - the xmas files
05. frederik boelens - sd-xmas
06. joram van hartingsveldt - jingle things
07. frederik boelens - iceworld
08. dioniso hernadez - navodad
09. bifi - oldschool msxmas
10. vincent van dam - kvk-xmas
11. ccfg - joulubugi

To me, the entry of Wiz wins by an inch because the combination of a slow and boring christmas song with an exciting, recognizable Konami beat. It turned out to 'hit the spot' perfectly. When you say MSX you say Konami, when you say Christmas you say 'White Christmas'. The combination of the two was an ideal entry for the MuSiXmas challenge and Wiz did a great job at getting that recognizable PSG+SCC sound.

Wolf_... what can I say. Master of Moonsound? We already knew he was great at orchestral tunes for Moonsound, now we know what he can do with small samples as well. This is what a 24-channel SCC would have sounded like. Konami eat your heart out? Smile

DrMSX - Very daring to do a slow piano tune like this on MSX. And it certainly isn't the first song that comes to mind for the theme 'Xmas'. It is an original choice and it's worked out very well. You got to know the original to really like it Wink

Meits - The idea of the song just is great. Meits managed to capture the 'X-files' sound, but the Xmas-part of the song could have been made a bit more clear than this. Meits, please make your next songs on a real MSX. Accept no substitutes! Smile

Frederik Boelens - SD-Xmas. Another daring choice, using MBFM instead of MBWAVE. The result is just great. Additional bonus points for using a SD-Snatcher song. The fact it came on the 5th place tells a lot about the quality of this challenge.

Joram van Hartingsveldt - Jingle things. Ended this high because it is in fact a nice, plain and simple christmas song. Surely a lot of bells, variations and additions could have been made to it, but... it is a nice, plain and simple christmas song, isn't it? Smile

Frederik Boelens - Iceworld. I like the song a lot, but it did not really give me a christmas feeling. It surely gave me a snow/ice feeling though, which is close enough. Once again, respect for using MBFM instead of MBWAVE!

Dioniso hernadez - navodad. Okay, I admit it. I'm not very fond of these kind of beats. Dioniso sure knows to pull a heavy sound out of the tiny PSG though.

Bifi - oldschool msxmas. As I already replied to the newspost: this song truly gave me a deep retro feeling. PSG MML in MSX-BASIC. Accept no substitute Wink

Vincent van dam - kvk-xmas. Samples! But euhm.. do the samples sound better on MSX2 than on turboR?

ccfg - joulubugi. I fully agree with Meits here Wink

By snout

Ascended (15184)

snout's picture

29-12-2004, 12:44

Btw,. I wonder why there were no MB-STEREO or MSX-MUSIC entries in this challenge. If I'd had the time I would have done an MB-STEREO and a Musica (PSG+FM+SCC) entry. Alas, alas....

P.S. Bifi - did you just read my mind?! Tongue What's your list dude? Smile

By BiFi

Enlighted (4348)

BiFi's picture

29-12-2004, 13:35

Let's just say I'm gifted Wink

Anway, my list would look like this:

01. wolf - sillycone christmas
02. wiz - white christmas
03. frederik boelens - sd-xmas
04. frederik boelens - iceworld
05. meits - the xmas files
06. bifi - oldschool msxmas
07. drmsx - merry christmas mr lawrence
08. joram van hartingsveldt - jingle things
09. vincent van dam - kvk-xmas
10. ccfg - joulubugi
11. dioniso hernadez - navodad

Wolf simply hit the spot with a very cool SCC/PSG combination played on OPL4. Apart from the fact the tune is completely original with a few inspired Christmas related things, the sound simply rocks.

Wiz' entry actually made me swing on this version of White Christmas. The recognizable Konami beat is catchy, especially added on what's usually a slow tune. Worth looping over and over.

Frederik obviously still likes FM more than wave and he shows it with two stunning tunes. Being a Konami freak and loving the SD-Snatcher sounds SD-Xmas scores a bit higher than Iceworld. I agree with snout for giving it more a snow/ice feeling with Iceworld. Let's say it's Frederik's way of a white christmas. Wink

Meits managed to give a non X-files the X-files sound. The added dash of Silent Night is still a bit too silent for me, though. The real thing is always the best choice to make the right sound on.

Putting myself halfway... I had a big laugh when I heard this song for the first time. I could've added a bit more retro-feeling to it by submitting it as a WAV file containing cassette data. I had to come up with that sooner. Pity it shows the clear difference between a 50 Hz optimized PLAY and a 60 Hz optimized one.

I don't even know the original song DrMSX used to make his entry. It did give me a certain Christmas feeling, though not big enough to end higher than this.

Joram van Hartingsveldt did a nice job covering Jingle Bells in Jingle Things, though it seems to be a much more recurring song in arrangements then Wham's Last Christmas or Mariah Carey's All I want for Christmas add up together. Still a cool song but about now covered a bit too many times in this challenge.

Vincent van Dam shows the PSG can do samples as well. I didn't get much of a Christmas feeling with it... but then again, I didn't understand the samples.

I don't know what to say about ccfg's entry, than just it being slightly better than...

Dioniso's entry... Beat's and scratches aren't my thing at all and I don't have any Christmas feelings with it.

€ 0.02

By wolf_

Ambassador_ (9892)

wolf_'s picture

29-12-2004, 13:41

Btw,. I wonder why there were no MB-STEREO or MSX-MUSIC entries in this challenge.

bleh... old Smile PSG is hot because it's retro and kinda unexplored, opl4 is hot because it offers more freedom..

By AuroraMSX

Paragon (1901)

AuroraMSX's picture

29-12-2004, 13:54

Ehm... Am I the only one having trouble downloading the MP3's?

By snout

Ascended (15184)

snout's picture

29-12-2004, 13:55

there were some webserver issues for the past ~30 minutes.. are you still having trouble downloading 'em?

change -> there are still server issues... going to see what I can do about it to fix it...

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